updated 04:35 pm EST, Tue December 4, 2007
Bay on Microsoft HD
Microsoft is deliberately feeding into the HD disc format wars to ensure that its own downloads succeed where physical copies fail, says movie director Michael Bay in a response to a question posed through his official forums. The producer contends that Microsoft is writing "$100 million dollar checks" to movie studios to ensure HD DVD exclusives that hurt the overall market regardless of the format's actual merit or its popularity, preventing any one format from gaining a clear upper hand. Bay's own Transformers is available on disc only in the less popular HD DVD format despite his stated preference for Blu-ray. To the director, this is primarily a stalling tactic while Microsoft refines its own online-only technology.
"What you don't understand is corporate politics," he says in the response. "Microsoft [officials] want both formats to fail so they can be heroes and make the world move to digital downloads."
Microsoft is known to support HD DVD-only studios and promotional groups financially and offers its own add-on player for the Xbox 360, but has also shifted much of its attention to the download-only Xbox Video Marketplace, which will expand worldwide next week. The console service allows users to rent movies and buy TV shows at an HD resolution and with prices roughly favorable to physical stores.
Regardless of actual intent, the balancing effect spurred on by the sponsors of either format may create trouble for download rivals such as Apple's iTunes and Pioneer's SyncTV, many of which either offer their Internet content only in standard definition or back the Blu-ray standard. Apple has contributed to both Blu-Ray and HD DVD in financial and software support but has yet to introduce a computer or device with an HD-capable optical drive.